DEMAREST, N.J. -- Starting a new job can come with a bit of anxiety, but Zac the border collie is handling his new post as goose dog at the Academy of the Holy Angels (AHA) in Demarest with quiet aplomb.
“The AHA community couldn’t be happier than to welcome Zac,” said AHA President Melinda Hanlon.
Sister Mary Foley, AHA’s social worker and Zac’s direct report, went about the work of introducing her new employee. Many people were pleasantly surprised to learn about him since the hiring process was a closely guarded secret for several months.
“The school really needed a goose dog after Luke died,” said Sister Mary, referring to her 13-year companion, who acted as AHA’s goose herder and therapy dog until his passing in April.
As Holy Angels sought an appropriate successor, school officials worked with Luke’s breeders and trainers, Gwen and Kent Kuykendall of Goosemasters in North Carolina.
“The Kuykendalls breed very excellent dogs, so we went back to the same place,” explained Sister Mary. “They’ve worked with us since the spring to find the right dog for us, and Zac is the right dog for us. You can tell he likes to be around women and girls, and he is very affectionate, very sweet, and very gentle.”
For the moment, Sister Mary is asking that nobody address Zac by name as he will need to learn the sound of her voice and recognize her as his leader as the two form a bond.
“It’s going to take a while for Zac to get acclimated to being in a school setting,” she said.
“I will be practicing his commands, including ‘lie down’ and ‘come.’”
Will Zac also take on Luke’s responsibilities as a therapy dog? “If Zac wants to become a therapy dog, I'll be happy. He will let us know," she said.
"So far, I see such a gentle, approachable dog that I think this will happen.
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